Crispy Baked Calamari & Prawns with Avocado Salsa the healthy ketogenic way: 12g carbs each portion.
Calamari with prawns and chips is a popular dish, especially in Italy and surrounding Mediterranean countries. The locals eat it often. Holiday makers can’t get enough of it. Totally delicious. But neither healthy nor ketogenic. It is full of unhealthy fats from deep frying and it’s carbohydrate-rich thanks to the batter. Not to mention the carbs overload from potatoes. So how does one ketofy and healthify this oh-so-yummy dish? Well, chips are a big keto no-no, so out they go. Then you’re left with the prawns and calamari, but you don’t fry them. Instead, you bake them and serve them with a yummy, uber-healthy avocado salsa. Ketofication complete!
Choosing the best prawns.
The tastiest prawns I have ever tasted come from my trusted Italian fishmonger, Roberto. They are absolutely huuuuge Argentinian Prawns, Pleoticus Mueller. If you can source them, I wholeheartedly recommend them. It’s like eating lobster, but better! Unfortunately, I have not found an English version of Roberto yet, so when in Kent, I make do with whatever I can find that isn’t a cheap, intensively farmed Chinese import. The important thing is to buy raw prawns and to choose the largest you can find. Obviously you’ll save time on preparation if you buy them already cleaned and ready for cooking, but they won’t be as tasty as those that you buy whole and you clean yourself.
Calamari or Squid? Fresh or Frozen?
Many people mistakingly believe that squid is just the English name for Italian calamari. Others believe that calamari is the cooked version of squid, a bit like pork and pig. I’m afraid neither is the case. Both calamari and squid are cephalopod mollusks belonging to the Teuthida order. But that’s where the similarity ends, as they have distinct taxonomies. The reason that I’m keen to specify this distinction, is that they are very different in both taste and texture. Squid is cheap, tends to be rubbery, unless very young, and is pretty tasteless. Calamari, on the other hand, is more expensive, buttery-tender and succulent. If you have a fish market near you, or you know a good fishmonger, ask for European Squid or calamari specifically. The scientific name for Calamari is Loligo Vulgaris. A good fishmonger will be able to confirm what he’s offering for sale.
If your fishmonger doesn’t have a clue about what kind of squid he’s offering, here’s how you can tell what it is: Calamari (Loligo Vulgaris) have swimming fins that are rhomboid in shape and run alongside one half or more of their slender body; squid’s fins are more like triangles and protrude at the bottom of the mantle so that when spread out they form an arrow shape. There are other differences in appearance, such as the colouring, but unless you’re looking at squid and calamari side by side, you won’t be able to spot them.
If all you can get is prepared, frozen squid rings, chances are that they won’t be Loligo Vulgaris. Still perfectly edible, but not as nice and probably quite chewy.
How to Clean Calamari.
Calamari are beautiful molluscs. The best fishmongers will clean them for you, others won’t. Either way, if you can source fresh calamari, don’t hesitate. Cleaning them is a breeze. I know many people are squeamish about handling fish, but really, there is nothing to it. If you wear disposable gloves, you’ll avoid touching the fish and your hands won’t smell for hours.
To clean and prepare a whole squid, you only need a pair of scissors:
- Remove the head, by grabbing it and pulling it gently but firmly so it comes away with the interiors.
- Remove the central gladius (the see-through, feather-like central support) by pulling it out in a slow but steady motion.
- Peel off the thin, dark outer skin layer (optional).
- Scoop out any remaining innards and rinse the sack under running water.
- Cut out the fins, then cut across the body to obtain the classic calamari rings.
You can chose to discard the head, but you’d be missing out. If you remove beak and eyes, again with the help of your scissors, you’ll have delicious tentacles to cook with your rings and fins. Tentacles are perfectly edible and totally delicious. A step by step tutorial can be found here.
The Health Benefits of Crispy Baked Calamari & Prawns with Avocado Salsa.
Calamari are a good food source of zinc and manganese. They are also high in copper, selenium, vitamin B12, and riboflavin.
Prawns, or shrimp, as some call them, are an excellent source of antioxidants, minerals, protein and Omega 3 fats. In particular, they contain an unusually high concentration of selenium.
Avocado is loaded with everything that’s good for you. While most fruits are high in carbs and fibre, with little or no fat, avocado contains a lot of healthy, monounsaturated fat. It comes as no surprise that this amazing fruit is a firm keto favourite.
How to Make my Crispy Baked Calamari & Prawns with Avocado Salsa recipe.
If you’ve been reminiscing about that amazing seafood and chips you had on holiday, now is the time to make Crispy Baked Calamari & Prawns with Avocado Salsa and appease your taste buds.
Forget the deep frying metod. This is way cleaner and easier. Once you’ve rinsed your calamari and prawns, dip them in a mixture of egg and coconut oil. Coat them with coconut flour mixed with a little oat bran and then bake them until nice and crispy.
Baking won’t take more than 20 minutes, so you can make the avocado salsa in the meantime. Mash avocado, then stir in mayonnaise, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice, add seasoning and it’s ready.
Crispy Baked Calamari & Prawns with Avocado Salsa is a keto-friendly, healthy and quick recipe you can serve whenever you want without feeling guilty.
- Yield: 2 servings
- Serving size: 1
- Calories: 389
- Fat: 23g
- Net Carbs: 12g
- Protein: 31g
- 300g fresh, whole calamari (or 200g cleaned)
- 200g large fresh whole prawns (or 150g de-shelled)
- 3 tbsp fine coconut flour
- 2 tbsp gluten free oat bran
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 50g avocado
- 20g sugar free mayonnaise (U.S. option HERE) I use this brand because it is the best tasting mayo ever and it's virtually zero carbs!
- a small squeeze of tomato paste
- a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice + 2 slices
- 1 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional)
- clean calamari and cut across to make rings.
- remove shell, claws, tail and gut string from prawns.
- you should now have 350g combined net weight of fish.
- rinse under running cold water, then place in a small colander over a bowl to drain.
- in a medium bowl, beat egg with coconut oil; add fish and stir until well coated.
- in a separate bowl, mix coconut flour, oat bran, salt, a good sprinkle of black pepper and turmeric.
- pre-heat oven to 200C fan.
- using prongs, dip fish in the coconut/bran flour mix, coating all sides.
- place fish into an oven tray lined with parchment paper.
- bake for 10 mins then turn each piece over to crisp up the underside and bake for another 10 mins.
- cut and mash avocado, then add mayonnaise, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt and lemon juice.
- mix well, adding some water to thin out according to your preference.
- serve with lemon wedges.
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